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Nine People Survive After Passenger Boat Capsizes on Lake Victoria

Ssemanda, Mutebi and other boat operators at Kasenyi landing site say the sailors should have first removed the laid fishing nets that had entangled the boat engines before embarking on the journey to Kisaba landing site.

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Nine people have  survived death after a passenger boat they were sailing with capsized in Lake Victoria last night.

According to the Ministry of Works and Transport,  nine people who were  on the boat all got off safely and both engines of the boat have been retrieved by the marine officers.

The ministry, in a press statement dated May 5, says the  incident involved a boat which first dropped off some travellers at Lukuba Landing Site  in Kalangala at around 8 pm and on its way to Kisaba Landing Site on Lake Victoria it got into an accident. 

"The boat engines got entangled in fishing nets, causing one [passengers] to fall into the water. The boat was then hit by strong winds up to the mainland near Lukuba," part of the statement says.

The survivors, according to eyewitnesses, were saved by rescue teams comprised of marine police and military personnel, and the local fishermen in Kalangala who responded to the incident last night and this morning.

 The survivors, who are largely traders, on Wednesday evening boarded a  boat from Kasenyi Landing site in Katabi town council to Kisaba island in Kalangala district.  

According to the passenger manifest at Kasenyi landing site, the boat departed with 45 passengers and 3 crew members.

According to Christopher Mutebi and Dirisa Ssemanda, both boat operators at Kasenyi landing site,  the boat was loaded with different assortments of shop merchandise en route to Kalangala.   

Majority of the passengers disembarked at Lukuba landing site in Kalangala district while others hopped on to boda bodas cycles and headed for Kisaba landing site, having got got scared of the strong winds blowing over the waters. "So only nine people proceeded with the boat for Kisaba landing site," Ssemanda says.

Ssemanda says the nine survivors however got stuck at night, deep into lake Victoria between Lukuba and Kisaba landing sites, which are located about 10 Kilometers apart. The entire trip from Kasenyi landing site in Katabi Town Council to Kisaba landing site in Kalangala is four hours, with the longest stretch being Kasenyi to Lukuba which is one of Kalangala's  main landing sites on  Bugala island.

Ssemanda, Mutebi and other boat operators at Kasenyi landing site say the sailors should have first removed the laid fishing nets that had entangled the boat engines before embarking on journey to Kisaba landing site.

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Ssemanda says the boat stopped at Lukuba landing site and off-loaded 25 passengers and a large quantity of cargo such as cartons of salt, boxes of soap, crates of beers among others.

"With the boat operators , the boat then departed from Lukuba landing site for Kisaba with seven passengers and cargo like 60 crates of beer and more than seventy 20 litre jerrycans of fuel," Saidi Kayongo, the chairman Kasenyi landing site says. 

He says it was shortly after the boat departed from Lukuba landing site that it capsized in the lake.

The boat belongs to a one Ssengendo, a resident of Kisaba landing site.

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Kayongo urges boat operators and fishermen to use lifejackets because the Uganda National Meteorology Authority-UNMA weather forecasts indicate that there will be strong winds over Lake Victoria from April to July this year.

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Anastasios Lwanga, a fisherman at Kisaba landing site who was part of the local rescue team says when the boat got stuck after its engine failed, the survivors held themselves on the rocks protruding in the Lake.  

 

Lwanga says the boat engines got stuck in the laid fishing nets, suddenly stopping its movement but as the operators tried to cut the nets, the boat got crushed on the stones due to strong winds that was blowing at the time.

  "They were lucky that there are visible stones in area, which the passengers could hold on to," he says.  

He adds that the rescuers responded after waiting for the boat to arrive at Kisaba landing site in vain, prompting a search by fishermen, who later found the wrecked boat and some merchandise floating on the waters.

Ronald Bogere, a businessman at Kasenyi landing site estimates that merchandise worth over shillings 60million capsized with the boat.